“Our funding process is so absurdly illogical that we might as well be sending school districts completely random amounts of money.” — State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston)
State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) issued the following statement on the Senate’s approval today, May 14, of a resolution, which he co-sponsored, to create the Advisory Committee on Education Funding:
“Illinois’ education funding system is inequitable, outdated and broken. A panel recommends a per-pupil minimum spending level, which the legislature has ignored since 1997, instead setting a level that now lags behind the recommendation by more than 25 percent. Supplemental grants assist high-poverty districts but benefit low-income students to different degrees depending on where they live. ‘Hold harmless’ provisions and a separate formula for tax-capped districts complicate matters, producing winners and losers.
“Most distressingly, this byzantine system is then subjected to a blunt 11 percent cut across the board, because Illinois can no longer afford to fully fund even this inadequate formula. The funding process is so absurdly illogical that we might as well be sending school districts completely random amounts of money.
“Two-thirds of Illinois school districts engaged in deficit spending this year. At the heart of the problem is our schools’ heavy reliance on local property taxes; our constitution gives the state primary responsibility for financing public education, but Illinois is last in the nation in the percentage of funding schools actually receive from the state.
“We all benefit when children have access to a high-quality, adequately funded public education, no matter where they live. Illinois’ arcane funding mechanism is no stranger to criticism, but for decades lawmakers have preferred minor tweaks to bold reforms. I am optimistic that armed with the latest research and recommendations from this committee and moved by the urgency of the times, we will finally enact a more equitable system that reflects the value Illinoisans place on education. “
The legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 32, will next be considered by the House.